History is in the making in the Cowichan Valley as we are about to see a total paradigm shift on how North Cowichan manages its municipal forests.
How can I make such a confident statement? Part of the benefit of being around this planet long enough for hair to thin and turn grey is the ability to see patterns repeat themselves.
What’s happening now with what was a mixed-use forest reserve that provided revenue through small scale industrial logging is similar to the creation of the Great Bear Rain Forest, …only its happening more quickly here.
From this point on, it will no longer be known as the North Cowichan Municipal Forest but rather the Six Mountains Forests, or rather some reasonable facsimile of that. A very thorough and effective re-branding is underway and there is organization behind the effort that make it happen.
By the time you are reading this a sell-out meeting in the Performing Arts Theatre will have been held and the political support for this paradigm shift in forest management will have become unstoppable.
The organization and planning have been masterful.
The Tuesday event was marketed as “The Secrets of the Six Mountains, A Public Assembly for Our Community Forests and Their Future, Now and Forever”.
Its not hard to predict a sell-out when the lineup of speakers was revealed – a list of local and provincial environmental and forestry superstars. And, with the organizational skills of the people behind the project there is no doubt they could fill the theatre after they had successfully turned out hundreds of supporters to attend meetings in North Cowichan’s cramped council chambers.
Make no mistake; the vision and commitment of these people comes from learning the lessons of decades of environmental campaigning in BC. These folks are running a finely tuned political machine and they will accomplish what they have set out to do.
Details remain to be worked out, but Cowichan Valley residents can expect to see forest management turned on its head. The forest reserve will not likely return much in the way of revenue from logging as the outlook is for adopting some limited low-impact logging practices that will tend to earn enough only to support the logging activity itself – not much in the way of profit.
Mountain biking will likely become a big-time activity and casual hikers can hope there will be sufficient planning to avoid the inevitable conflicts with mountain bikers flying down the trails.
The management of North Cowichan’s existing municipal forest has been a model for other communities to follow and I predict the about-to-be totally reconfigured plan will also become a model for other communities to follow.
The times are changing because there is a committed group of people who know how to organize and can make things happen.
Patrick Hrushowy is a 45 year veteran of journalism, communications consulting, and business background, who just can’t stop writing.